This interview is presented to you by the University of Nebraska — Lincoln Master of Arts in Business with a Specialization in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration.
By: D.J. Podgorny, @DJPodgorny
For Glenn Adamo, President & Founder of Ivanhoe Media & Entertainment, taking risks has been a constant throughout his career. Upon graduation from the University of Connecticut, Adamo was in search of a full-time job after his dreams of becoming a professional hockey player were unfortunately cut short.
“Three months out of college, I started as a receptionist at WNBC. I had friends that laughed and thought I was crazy, but I always felt it was important to put myself in front of a group of people and let them get to see you work where there is no pressure. For me, I took any way in the door as I could get.”
From there, Adamo’s grit was on full display and his efforts were rewarded. The next 15 years of his career were filled with success, including winning four Emmy Awards for his work as a Coordinating Producer for the 1988 and 1992 Summer Olympics and 1983 Wimbledon and World Series.
“I always felt it was important to put myself in front of a group of people and let them get to see you work where there is no pressure.”
Adamo’s success garnered significant respect throughout the broadcast media industry and put him in perfect position to reconnect with his roots: hockey. In 1993, Adamo joined the NHL as the Group Vice President of Broadcasting and Scheduling.
In his tenure at the NHL, Adamo once again reached new heights. This time around, he orchestrated an increase in annual rights fees from $30 million to more than $200 million in his seven years in the position. Additionally, Adamo played a significant role in the creation of NHL Productions, the NHL’s full-service television production company.
After seven years in the league offices, Adamo was recruited to join the New Jersey Devils, where he served as the Vice President of Broadcasting, Entertainment and Community Development. In his four years with the Devils, Adamo attained more than $1 million in incremental revenue each year from media and individual game sales, while also fulfilling his life-long dream of winning the Stanley Cup with the 2003 squad.
After completing his tenure with the Devils, Adamo was again recruited for yet another role. This time, Adamo was named the NFL’s Vice President of Production, Broadcasting, NFL Films, NFL Network and Media Operations, a role he would hold for 13 years.
In his time with the NFL, Adamo was able to lead sizable change, including the generation of more than $2 billion in revenue through the creation and implementation of flex scheduling, as well as the digital conversion of over 55,000 hours of NFL Film library. Perhaps the most interesting, however, was Adamo’s role as the point-man for developing new technology within the league.
Through this role, Adamo was exposed to the NFL’s partnerships with startups, such as Jaunt and NextVR, companies poised to change the way media is consumed. These interactions continued cultivate Adamo’s passion for the intersection of technology, business and digital media.
This enthusiasm only continued to grow until, earlier this summer, Adamo went all in and left the NFL to create Ivanhoe Media & Entertainment. Ivanhoe is an independent consulting business focused on all aspects of media content creation, production, strategy and delivery.
“This move is about taking a deep dive into technology and media that I enjoy, while helping companies embrace them. Some are traditional media companies that need to make positive changes or simply a strategy as to how best get their product in front of the right people.”
“Everything is dependent on everything else in today’s digital media space. That’s where I come in: I’m a huge collaborator, I’ve been able to build and launch new properties both at the NFL and NHL. And while I’m not an ‘engineer by trade,’ I really get into the technology and how it can be used beneficially.“
At its core, Ivanhoe is a strategic, production, storytelling digital media company that loves to embrace new technology. With Adamo’s fervor and experience, it is positioned to be an important tool for companies looking to get started and engaged in the cutting-edge, technological spaces.
“For me, it is about how I can help companies, with my experience, how can I help them be better and navigate all of this crowded market that everyone is facing and changes daily.”
For Adamo, leaving the NFL was not an easy or fast decision. Once again, he faced a certain level of criticism from his peers.
“My best friends asked me, ‘Are you crazy? You left the NFL, why would you do that?’ I said because at some point in your life challenge overtakes the ability to accept the status quo. I just felt that I was accepting the status quo by staying. Was I helping lead change? Yes, I was. But, the challenge is just too good for me not to take a chance and go with it.”
With the emergence of virtual reality, machine learning, artificial intelligence and countless other technological trends, Adamo’s bet certainly appears to be a safe one. As companies continue to mature, there will be a definite demand for some liaison between the technology and the business applying it: a need Ivanhoe is positioned to meet.
“I only do what I love and I love what I do. That’s what made this move such a no-brainer for me.”
So, what advice does someone as decorated as Adamo provide for young professionals? Play the long game and compete against yourself, not your peers.
“The competition today is about how am I going to be the best that I can be and how am I going to prove I belong and be relevant?”
“My mantra that I live by: your career is a marathon. It is going to have ups and downs and trips and falls. You’re going to scrape your knee and you may even get really, really wounded at some point. But if you look at your career as a marathon and not a sprint, you will always be able to keep in perspective what’s ahead and how you navigate that.”
“Instead of competing against themselves, to be the best they can be, [young professionals] always seem to want to compete against somebody else. That’s not what the competition is, the competition today is about how am I going to be the best that I can be and how am I going to get my foot in the door and how am I going to prove I belong and be relevant?”
Front Office Sports is proud to have spoken with Glenn Adamo. We would like to thank him for his time and insight and we wish him the best in all his future endeavors. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.